Thru Arizona’s desert to southern California. Canyon the Chelly, Petrified Forest NP. On to San Diego and towards the Mexican Border.
After the wonderful Bisti Badlands, a well deserved IPA at Farmigton’s even more wonderful 3 Rivers Brewery.
Time to reflect about the next days. Easy – Canyon de Chelly and Chinle Navajo Nation’s capital are on the bucket list.
Chinle, 18th April
Thru the desert to Canyon de Chelly. All thru Indian Reserves.
At the horizon Shiprock Mountain. A holy place odd tourists may not approach.
Later the rocks of Monument Valley at the horizon.
A visit to a slightly unusual attraction – even considering the standard of Road 66 sights – the 4 Corners Monument. The place where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado meet.
Principally there’s nothing to see here. So some clever businessmen constructed a not really impressive monument and allow everybody to take as funny picture as they wish for a hefty 5$ entrance fee. And that’s it.
On thru pretty colorful desert to reach Canyon de Chelly in the early afternoon.
Currently, the rim of the canyon is managed by the National Park Service, while the bottom of the canyon is in the hands of the Apache Nation, thus only accessible with guides or tours. And at prices slightly difficult to justify. So most of the cliff dwellings are only visible from the rim.
Still there are many incredible views from the top.
Holbrook, 19th April
Despite the complicated management of visitors to this canyon, the National Park Service offers 1 hike down to the bottom: the White House Trail.
So we sneak down to Chelly’s bottom …
… to have a look at the White House Dwelling.
And back to the top.
On to Holbrook. Desert landscape as usual. Big sky country.
On the way a visit to the Petrified Forest / Painted Desert National Park.
Maybe not a park you spend days to explore, but definitely worth to have a look at it.
In the evening we arrive in Holbrook. Nothing really to remember.
Maybe except the beers they serve in Bavarian dimensions at the Mesa Bar. But it’s IPA, not simple wheat beer.
Prescott, 22nd April
Then on to Flagstaff. To start with, some more flat land, big sky and nothing to see on the I 40 / famous Route 66.
A stop in Winslow. A small village making considerable efforts to be part of the great Route 66 business. Visibly well esteemed by tourists taking the pic of their life together with this guy of the Eagles and his song Take it Easy. No idea how they got this idea. And who the hell remembers the Eagles or their songs.
On to Flagstaff. At an altitude of about 2000m no more desert, but snow covered mountains at the horizon.
At the entrance of town we discover a few more km of the real old Route 66. How exiting. Probably you understand that. Maybe not.
Whatever. It’s our last bit on Route 66. Really promised.
Shortly later we arrive in town.
Flagstaff, the place we’ve already passed thru last year on our way to Alaska. So not too much new to explore. Nevertheless, we’re still astonished how lively downtown is.
After the well deserved rest in town we move on. Towards Prescott. 1st thru the Oak Valley to Sedona.
The opportunity for a hike – the famous West Fork Trail in the Coconino State Forest.
Then on to Prescott. Another place we’ve also been last year. And also another opportunity to visit The Palace – this famous historic watering hole at the Whisky Row.
Joshua Tree NP, 22nd April
On. Further to the west, to the tiny town of Blythe. Not because of its beauty, but because it’s the place for a stopover on the way to the Joshua Tree National Park. The landscape definitely gets dry, desert, temperature rises.
A short stop in the town of Quartzside. Famous for the most weird gem fair in the world – unfortunately we miss it.
And of course the place where Hi Jolly found his final rest.
Never heard of this guy? Shame on you.
It’s the gentleman who tried some 150 years ago to introduce camels in the US. Unfortunately he failed.
Imagine it had been a success. Probably today the country would look like Mauritania:
No need to build highways – camels don’t need them.
No big towns – houses can be transported anywhere on the camels’ back.
No need to depend on greenbacks – you can buy anything you imagine in exchange to camels.
No obligation to have a President making America great again – a country based on a camel economy fully developed its potential with the introduction of these brave animals.
Well, maybe the failure to introduce camels in the US did not have all these negative impacts. Who knows.
We move on. Shortly before arriving in Blythe we cross into California. A long queue to pass the agricultural checkpoint.
Somebody may smuggle in an infected Arizonan salad leaf.
Then we’re in Blythe. Forget it. They even don’t have a decent watering hole.
The next morning on to Joshua Tree NP. Again a drive thru the desert, temperatures in the higher 30ties – Celsius, not Fahrenheit.
In the national park, definitely a wonder happens. For the very 1st time we manage to organize a campsite in a national park. No idea for what reason it’s not fully occupied. Up to now we never had this chance – except once in Yellowstone NP. There was about half a meter of snow.
But let’s go back to the visit of the park.
Of course, the national park is about Joshua Trees.
Nevertheless, this time of the year the trees are in fierce competition with all these blooming flowers. Especially on the Hidden Valley Trail.
There’s more. You can even drive up to Keys View, some 1600m above sea level. The ultimate place to have an aerial view of famous Palm Springs – this place where the high heeled Americans avoid having cold feet during winter time.
In the evening the opportunity to work seriously on our beer stock.
And next morning a wonderful wake-up call by our lovely neighbor. Despite the unambiguous fact that he sleeps in a small tent he starts his generator and uses the power to please everybody with his latest country songs.
Probably we should love him for that.
After this delight we have to explore the other parts of the park:
Barker Dam , the Skull Rock and …
… finally the Cholla Cactus Garden.
Enough of cactuses, Joshua Trees and generators in the wilderness.
We drive on to Palm Springs.
Of course, it’s the town of those who are more than happy to spend over 500 $ for a lousy, smelly motel room. A room you smell immediately that the esteemed previous guest has not changed his socks for the last 4 weeks. Well, a motel as usual in this part of the world.
Just now, as temperature is a little higher, let’s say around 40° C, the guys even don’t dare to ask 15% of the initial prize. And as nobody is even interested in this slightly reduced prizes even the smell of the unwashed socks has disappeared. Thus, the time for us to visit.
Consequently not much happening in town. Too hot. More than 40° C. Nevertheless, we find a pretty cool’n’cooled munchery.
San Diego, 28th April
The next morning. 1 of these typical convenience food breakfasts. Just for the understanding of non-Americans – the locals consider it normal: believe us even the fried eggs sunny-side-up are pre-micro waved in a factory somewhere in the US, then shipped in their hygienic vacuum pack to Palm Springs. Just to be re-micro waved and finally chewed like old chewing gum by us. Great isn’t it?
This way even the poor Mexican lady responsible for housekeeping or the motel’s bouncer are able to prepare these delicious gourmet breakfasts.
Then we receive the call we’ve been expecting for quite a while. It’s DHL. Prado’s radiator has arrived. The 1 we’ve ordered some 5 weeks ago in France. With Euro 4×4. It’s true Prado’s old radiator was just leaking a little bit. But still leaking. Probably a number of sexy senior citizens are pretty aware of this leaking problem but still do not immediately cry for a spare. Well, Prado is more demanding. So after 5 weeks finally it has arrived. Please, guys from Euro 4×4 it’s fine to have received the radiator, but next time please a little faster. Well, we have to admit 2 days after they have sent the parts from their Frenchy office we could already pick them up in California.
Back to the call. The guys of DHL have never heard of the possibility to send a parcel to a post office to allow the customer to pick it up later. Immediately we feel a certain advantage to pick up Prado’s radiator directly with them. So no need to explain DHL how the US post works.
We’re busy driving to Ontario. Not the 1 in Canada; no the 1 in a suburb of Los Angeles. There – a huge parcel. It just fits into the car. We move on to nearby San Bernadino. There we ask a mechanic specialized in diesel engines if he could fit the new radiator.
He could, just he wouldn’t. It’s his principal not to touch any spares brought in by a customer. Even if he cannot find them in all America.
No need for further discussions with this gentleman. Should you ever need a mechanic in San Bernardino, California simply avoid Direct Truck and Auto Repair. It’s not worth the detour.
We move on the San Diego. With the help of iOverlander we quickly find The Truck Shop.
The next morning 1 hour of work and everything is done. Thanx James.
We continue. A new battery for Prado’s fridge. And finally new shoes for Prado. Now, we consider all these enough gifts for last Easter, next x-mas and probably even Prado’s next birthday.
Thus finally time to stroll thru San Diego.
1st to Litlle Italy – a kind of local’n’tourist hotspot for guys tired of country music’n’greasy burgers.
Thus, the opportunity for schmaltzy Italian songs’n’pizza.
Well, there’s more. A walk thru San Diego’s downtown. Astonishingly lots of newly built high rising buildings. What a difference to other American downtowns which have much more potential for Uncle Don’s greatification.
On to the famous railway station. The starting point to Santa Fe.
Then the Gaslamp District. Rather small, just 2 streets. Renovated houses, all full of watering holes’n’muncheries.
And somehow the home of San Diego’s homeless. Maybe here Uncle Don has a chance to spend some of the money he can never use for his Great Friendship Wall.
Then along the waterfront. The perfect place for addicted plane spotters. The airport is just a few 100m away, the noise incredible and the view on the planes fantastic. The ultimate place to count all red painted planes landing between 6am and 5pm. Supposedly exiting. Well, maybe not that much.
San Diego offers more than just the usual sights of a town of its size. There’s a real aircraft carrier to visit. Of course not 1 fighting poor Mexican immigrants on Rio Grande to support Uncle Don’s political unpredictability.
No, it’s the proud Midway. The carrier you can still imagine to be in the background of G. W.’s speech when he declared victory over Sadhy Hussein’s troops just days before his army got into real trouble with the Iraqis.
You pay some 20 bucks and you’re on the Midway. Ready to experience the life of these navy guys fighting for freedom, liberalism, globalization, justice, democracy, conservatism, nationalism, Americanism, isolationism or greatification depending on the current President’s excellently thought-out politics.
Of course you’re not alone on this visit. There are 1000s with you. Most of them keen to take all kind of selfies, a few 1s visibly seem to be even in a kind of a missionary mood.
Of course there are many opportunities to take beautiful pictures. Of course while taking them you’re kindly requested to ignore that most of these toys for some army guys were simply engineered to kill other guys who probably even didn’t know where the US are. Whatever. There are many proud veterans explaining how important’n’usefull all this staff was and many listeners fascinated by their stories. Or not.
Of course, at this place, we cannot forget the poor guys of the proud Swiss Army. For many years they’ve been looking for appropriate planes to finally conquer this stubborn Grand Duchy of Lichtenstein. And every attempt to buy some sophisticated fighters has been foiled by these even more stubborn Swiss citizens. Not because of the quality of the planes, not because of their cost. No, in Swizzyland money doesn’t matter. The planes were simply too big to fly thru the narrow mountain valleys. And too fast to fight in tiny Lichtenstein.
No problem, here on the Midway we finally find appropriate planes. They’re much better than the 1s we’ve seen some weeks ago near Tucson. Fully collapsible, they’re so small they can even cross the Alps thru the St. Gottardo Tunnel should there be too much snow on the pass. And as an airscrew-driven plane, they’ll have all the time to do whatever is needed in Lichtenstein. Solution found. Swizzy army it’s up to you to act.
Back to the Midway. An interesting way to learn how easy it must be for the army to maintain its snobbery. Poor guys, except for their generals.
Borrego Springs, 30th April
After a few days in San Diego it’s time to move on.
Somehow to our last destination in the US: the Anzo – Borrego State Park. A desert landscape just north of the Mexican border.
Principally we take the chance to visit because of the present cold front in this area. Thus, temperatures will be well below the usual 45° C.
We cross the Sierra in fog’n’rain, …
… then the weather improves significantly. We enter the State Park and finally reach the rather strange village of Borrego Springs in the afternoon.
The next morning we sneak along the Palm Canyon Trail. Said to be the best hike in the area leading to a palm tree oasis. Nevertheless, seems to be pretty dangerous.
However, we ignore that all. And hike to the oasis.
In the afternoon a visit to the park’s badlands. Well, it’s just a vista point to admire how bad the lands are. Not many possibilities to sneak around.
Well, and then we’re ready to leave Uncle Trumps very own country. Tomorrow we’ll cross the border. Promised.
But more about this later, in the next post.
In the meantime enjoy reading, remain jealous and wait impatiently for the next post.